Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Lawmakers Use State of the Union Guests to Embody Talking Points

Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Pool
Obama walks down the colonnade at the White House on Tuesday.

As CQ Roll Call has reported, dozens of victims of gun violence, their family members and first responders will be in attendance Tuesday night as part of a coordinated effort to highlight the issue undertaken by Democratic lawmakers. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson two years ago, is accompanying Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., a former aide also injured in the attack who now holds her seat. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has invited a fourth-grader from Newtown, Conn., where a December mass shooting claimed 26 lives, who wrote asking Congress “to ban semi automatic weapons and large capacity magazines and to make everyone use gun safes.”

Some lawmakers are keeping their guest lists more personal.

Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., is bringing the physical therapist who helped him learn how to walk again after a stroke.

In a statement, Kirk said Michael Klonowski and others at his rehabilitation center helped him shed his “glass-half-empty” attitude and believe he would walk again.

“My physical therapist, Mike Klonowski, was a tyrant and, God bless him, a great inspiration. The stroke had severely impaired my left leg, but Mike expected me to walk again. He would teach me how to do it, or we would both die trying,” Kirk wrote.

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